NHS boss Sir David Nicholson criticises ULHT "gagging order" on former chief executive Gary Walker
NHS boss Sir David Nicholson yesterday criticised the gagging order placed on former United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust chief executive Gary Walker.
Mr Walker has claimed the confidentiality agreement which he signed when he was sacked by the trust prevented him from raising concerns about patient safety.
The trust has claimed the order only prevented him from speaking about the terms of his employment.
Speaking at the Health Select Committee yesterday, Mr Nicholson said such orders should not be used.
"It is completely and utterly unacceptable," he said.
"I would never sanction anything of the sort."
He added even though ULHT "bitterly contested" Mr Walker's version of events, he still found the incident unacceptable.
"I have made it absolutely clear that it is unacceptable and also illegal for organisations to gag people for issues around patient safety and improving services to patients."
The NHS chief executive went on to further criticise the letters sent by ULHT's lawyers to Mr Walker ahead of an interview on a BBC Radio 4 programme.
"The response of the trust was wrong," he added.
"They shouldn't have got their lawyers to write to him to say he shouldn't talk about that compromise agreement.
"He was absolutely right and free and proper to speak out."
Gary Walker is due to speak at the hearing.